This is not an insignificant integration when it comes to the evolution of salesforce.com in particular. Thus, a brief look is in order.
What Does It Actually Do?First, it is one of the first out of the box back office integrations of substance that started with force.com that wasn't a complete customization - such as the excellent supply chain application/service developed by the folks at Vetrazzo. This one is a pure and simple integration that comes prebuilt that will can take FinancialForce.com data a.k.a. salesforce.com generated data and put it into SAP Financials. It actually can take financial data being generated through salesforce.com and pass it from the cloud to SAP Financials which of course is on-premise. Actually solving a problem that has been vexing SAP for quite awhile. Apparently, there is a German company called SKYVVA which specializes in integrating cloud and on premise applications and in particular salesforce.com and SAP, which certainly made for a fortuitous partnership with FinancialForce.com.
SKYVVA seems to be a pretty interesting company who seem to at least say and possibly do all the right things. They are focused primarily on pre-built integration objects emanating from the cloud and designed to hook into on premise applications. Essentially they are the successors to what were the EAI - enterprise application integration - purveyors of the 90s and early millennium. They are a company that I'm going to be keeping my eye on. There are others in the SAP ecosystem who do similar things but they for the most part integrate SAP into the more amorphous "cloud." So for example, SAP All-in-One is integrated with cloud services. But what SKYVVA and FinancialForce.com did is unique - at least as far as I can tell
What Does It Mean?This is probably a bigger step forward for salesforce.com than it is for SAP though I won't underestimate the value of it for SAP either. I don't know what salesforce.com expects of this partner -driven move. Perhaps there have "devious" reasons for liking this - visibility and penetration into the SAP customer ecosystem which could line up potential customers. I wouldn't doubt that and its not unusual behavior, nor particularly bad or good. What I think makes this important for salesforce.com is that it both dovetails with their strategy to go upmarket - which is where most of SAP's customers are and it provides an important step forward in the evolution of the cloud - via recognition that on premise applications are not going away any time soon and represent a serious investment for companies - a legacy investment they are not going to scrap wholesale to replace it with pure cloud based services.
It certainly puts FinancialForce on the map and rightfully so. They have been artful since their beginning and have been perhaps salesforce.com's most important partner when it came to helping salesforce.com realize a strategic objective they set out a decade ago - to become what they called at the time "the business web" for all businesses running all their applications, regardless of who created the application. This evolved into their current Platform as a Service (PaaS) and cloud strategy - which, while not as agnostic as originally planned - meaning salesforce.com wants things developed on force.com - it is the same thing in play as 10 years ago. FinancialForce so far is perhaps their most important partner in helping them move their strategic needle. Will salesforce.com succeed at their lofty goal. I doubt they'll do it in the form they envision. I do think they will continue to be successful and eat up a big chunk of market share and do some of what they wanted. But that should be enough to satisfy anyone. This integration is a smart step in the right direction that they can thank FinancialForce and SKYVVA for.